New York, NY – Dianne Lob, Chair, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:
“The Conference of Presidents and members of its United Nations (UN) Working Group today sent UN Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres a letter condemning the despicable, antisemitic remarks made by UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) member Miloon Kothari and demanding the immediate dissolution of the open-ended COI. Kothari invoked dangerous antisemitic tropes during a media interview, where he singled-out Israel and questioned its legitimacy – while also spreading the age-old hateful canard that Jews conspire to control the media.
“The Conference has repeatedly warned about anti-Israel bias infecting the UN body, most recently in a letter on February 7, 2022, urging the Secretary General to ensure that the COI does not present reports that will unfairly criticize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
“Kothari’s remarks not only affirm this alarming bias, but also directly violate the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) rules and guidance for members, which state, ‘members [of such commissions and missions] should, in all cases, have a proven record of independence and impartiality. It is also important to ensure that the background of candidates, prior public statements or political or other affiliations, do not affect their independence or impartiality, or create perception of bias.’
“Since the UN General Assembly admitted Israel as a member state, there have been numerous attempts to deprive it of this membership. In view of the recent comments made by Kothari, as well as previous incendiary remarks made by other Commission members, Navi Pillay and Christopher Dominic Sidoti, we call on the Secretary General to end this shameful farce and help disband the harmful COI.
“The full text of the letter can be read below.”
July 29, 2022
His Excellency Mr. António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres
New York, New York 10017
On behalf of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and other major Jewish organizations, we write to express outrage over remarks made by Mr. Miloon Kothari in an interview with the anti-Israel media outlet Mondoweiss. As you know, Mr. Kothari is a member of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council following the hostilities between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas in May 2021.
In the interview, which was replete with expressions of bias, Mr. Kothari said: “I would go as far as to raise the question of why Israel is even a member of the United Nations.” Using an all too familiar antisemitic diatribe, he also said: “We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by whether it’s the Jewish lobby or whether it’s by specific NGOs, a lot of money is being thrown in to trying to discredit us.” (In the last session of the Human Rights Council, another member of the Commission, Christopher Sidoti, dismissed charges about antisemitism saying, “It seems that accusations of antisemitism are thrown like rice at a wedding.”)
When Mr. Kothari was appointed as a member of the Commission, we questioned his suitability for the job. We recalled that he was the subject of a formal complaint to the OHCHR, given his violation of UN regulations and ethical standards when carrying out an unauthorized official visit to Israel as Special Rapporteur for Housing, which he had presented as a private academic visit.
The OHCHR rules and guidance on commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions clearly state that “members [of such commissions and missions] should, in all cases, have a proven record of independence and impartiality. It is also important to ensure that the background of candidates, prior public statements or political or other affiliations, do not affect their independence or impartiality, or create perception of bias.”
Regrettably, the Human Rights Council’s President last year appointed three members of the Commission who fail to meet these fundamental requirements of independence and impartiality. Navi Pillay, Miloon Kothari and Christopher Dominic Sidoti each have made public statements and engaged in activities that reflect a preexisting and biased view of Israel. The composition of the Commission effectively guarantees that its resulting reports will lack credibility.
Since the UN General Assembly admitted Israel as a member state, there have been numerous attempts to deprive it of this membership. It is sad, indeed tragic, that seventy-seven years after the establishment of the UN on the ashes of the Holocaust, the UN has become a center for attempts to undermine the very existence of the Jewish state.
In our letter dated February 7, 2022, we urged you to use your authority to ensure that the Commission of Inquiry does not present reports that will unfairly criticize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. In view of the recent comments made by Mr. Kothari, and the other Commission members, we call on you to go even further and help disband this harmful body.
Dianne Lob William C. Daroff Malcolm Hoenlein
Chair Chief Executive Officer Vice Chair
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Hadassah, Women’s Zionist Organization of America
American Jewish Committee
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
American Jewish Congress
Jewish Federations of North America
Simon Wiesenthal Center
B’nai B’rith International
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis
World Jewish Congress – North America
The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern